We all want a good nights sleep, but it doesn’t always happen spontaneously as we’d like it to. Sometimes it takes some effort to wind down from a stressful day at work and create some calmness of mind and relaxation of body. If we go to bed tight and stressed, chances are we’ll take quite a while to get to sleep, and even if we do eventually fall to sleep it most probably won’t be that restful, deeply peaceful sleep that we are all craving for.
During the day, especially an extra busy or stressful day, we are usually stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, or the flight-or-fight response. While we need to have the flight-or-fight response available to us in times of emergency, it isn’t something we should be experiencing for long, excessive periods as it can be the cause of some serious health implications, including anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease and sleep problems to name but a few.
After a day of stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, which quite often happens regularly through out the day if we have a high pressure job, we need to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the relaxation part of the nervous system. It’s remarkable but true, this part of your nervous system does exist and makes you feel peaceful and relaxed. By triggering the parasympathetic nervous system, you can immediately lower stress levels, which help to reduce blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, and create a sense of well-being.
So how do we trigger the parasympathetic nervous system? Yoga and meditation! I’m going to give you some relaxing yoga poses and a simple soothing meditation technique that will only take a few minutes before bed and will help you fall into a peaceful, deep sleep, and have you waking up feeling refreshed and ready to face the world.
Take at least 5 deep breaths in each pose, but longer is better. These poses can be done on your bed, so you can just crawl between the sheets once you’re done!
Child’s Pose or Balasana thoroughly deserves its reputation as one of the most relaxing yoga poses. As well as the obvious physical benefits like stretching the hips and lower back, it’s also soothing for our adrenal glands, which get overworked when we’re constantly on a stress treadmill. Learn how to practice here
Because Child’s Pose is also a mild inversion, it helps calm and slow down an agitated mind, which is where our stress begins in the first place.
Forward Fold or Paschimottanasana is calming for the mind and relaxing for the body. It stretches the back of the body, especially the hamstring muscles and pelvic area, so it is great for relieving tension if you have been on your feet a lot or sitting in a chair for prolonged periods. Learn how to practice here
Legs up the Wall – Viparita Karani is a favourite for many. While there is something wonderful to discover in every pose, sometimes we just don’t feel like bending forward or back, or are simply too tired to balance on one leg, even for a moment. Learn how to practice here
Now gently bring your legs down off the wall and slide into bed, we’re going to finish off with some mantra breath meditation
Gauranga Breath Meditation – Now we’ve relaxed the body and calmed the mind it is time to soothe the soul. Listen and follow here